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Purpose Driven: Mesa Verde Gardens

Mesa Verde Gardens works with low-income families — primarily farm workers — in Santa Cruz County, California, to increase self-reliance and food security by creating community gardens where they can grow their own food.


The Simply Organic 1% Fund gave a $5,000 donation to Mesa Verde Gardens to support its efforts to create new organic gardens where community members can gather to work, learn, celebrate and enrich their lives.


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Mesa Verde Gardens partners with public officials and public agencies, clergy and churches, and individuals to secure land to convert to gardens for community members who do not have a place at home where they can grow food. Start-up funding for each site comes from individual community members, foundation grants and local businesses.


Member families pay $8/month to cover land and water costs and are asked to contribute two hours/month toward common projects. Plots are 15’ x 12’ with members planting crops of own choosing. All gardening is pesticide-free, and drip irrigation or watering cans are the only methods of watering allowed in order to preserve water.


Mesa Verde Gardens started its first organic community garden in the spring of 2011 with 30 low-income families working garden plots on land leased on a handshake agreement with a local church pastor. The following year, demand and successful fundraising resulted in the program expanding to two new sites, also on land owned by churches, and membership grew to 80 families. The community garden program has continued to grow each year and there are now more than 250 families participating.


There are eight Mesa Verde Gardens — some with orchards — thriving on church, school and city land across the county. The newest, Starlight Community Garden, is located between an elementary school and a high school. The program is exploring the possibility of developing garden-based education programs at the two schools.


We're happy to give back from the sales of Simply Organic products to help Mesa Verde Gardens continue to expand its organic community garden program.